At the end of the year, I always open a few 10-year-old California Cabernet Sauvignons for an impromptu retrospective. The decade mark is a milepost for California Cabernets, and the first real test of whether a vintage is a keeper or a drinker. The 1999s hold special meaning for me since my son was born that year, so my cellar is well-stocked. (Particularly since 1999 Bordeaux lacked as much promise for long-term aging, although I have a magnum of Latour for good measure.)
My colleague James Laube rated the vintage a classic for Napa Cabernet when the wines were released, and his recent retrospective tasting only confirmed it. A Bordeaux-style blend, the Phelps Insignia is typically among my favorite Cabernets after 10 years, and when I opened a bottle of the 1999 over the holidays, I wasn’t disappointed. The wine was still dense and complex, with accents of lively blackberry and cedar. It was ready to drink but had several years of great drinking ahead. I rated it 94 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the blind-tasting reviews and get the current auction price for Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 1999 (94 on release, 91 in retrospective tasting; $125 on release).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dr Lonnie H Sanders — longwood, fla — January 5, 2010 10:53am ET
Tim Fish — Santa Rosa, CA — January 5, 2010 11:19am ET
Dr J Rosenblatt — Montreal, Canada — January 5, 2010 5:17pm ET
Dominic M Dela Rosa — NJ — January 5, 2010 5:33pm ET
Jordan Horoschak — Houston, TX — January 5, 2010 7:20pm ET
Josh Moser — Sunnyvale, CA — January 5, 2010 7:37pm ET
Tim Fish — Santa Rosa, CA — January 5, 2010 9:06pm ET
Steve Dow — Beavercreek, OH — January 5, 2010 9:16pm ET
Stephen Lange — Washigton, DC USA — January 6, 2010 4:18pm ET
Ken Knight — Bakersfield, CA — January 6, 2010 5:23pm ET
Eric Schaefer — St Louis Mo USA — January 6, 2010 11:13pm ET
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